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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Dad's Reward

Several months ago I became a grandfather for the first time.  It was beautiful, a miracle, life altering…and so on and so on.  She has blessed our lives in so many ways that it is impossible to describe with justice.  Most things in life are overrated.  Being a grandfather is NOT one of them.

But I do have a problem.  My wife and kids are suckers for t-shirts.  They gave me my first “Grandpa” shirt which reads “Only the Best Dads get Promoted to Grandpa.”

While I am more than confident this is correct of yours truly, I am equally as certain that a bunch of crappy dads get promoted to grandpa as well.  If one were shooting for accuracy it might read “Only Dads get Promoted to Grandpa.”  They may not sell quite as many t-shirts, but my family to would want one.

Bad dads, good dads, all dads become granddads when one of their children has a kid.  It is such a crisis that there are so many shattered families.  Those granddads often get locked outside of this child’s inner circle.  I suppose they may not know the joy they are missing, but that does not make it any less tragic.

So, during this Thanksgiving Day week, I am beyond thankful.  Blessed that my family is close and we get to ride this wave together.  Any other way in unimaginable.  As for the shirt?  My humble self will not be wearing it in public.

But let’s not bury the lead here gang.  I am in the Best Dad category if there EVER was one!

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Good Stuff

It is different for everyone.  We often fail to look for it.  Too busy, too tired, too lazy.

I discovered mine recently.  Yes, I found the good stuff.  The things that matter.  

Money can’t buy them.  There is no set number of things that matter to someone and they change with time.  I am not even sure how to find them.  They just sort of show up and you think to yourself this is cool or oh my, when did you get here? or this is special; pay attention.

The good stuff is a flawless sunset, time with my granddaughter, having dinner with family, screened in porches, rocking chairs, college football and the warm hand of God on your shoulder as you bless a meal while sitting alone in a restaurant.

The good stuff can’t be created.  The same location or situation can be duplicated, but it takes a separate element to generate the goosebumps you feel the first time.  It is a God thing.

The good stuff gets missed when we are going through life’s motions in cruise control.  Too busy moving from thing to thing to slow down and look around.  I regret that the past several years calcified me.  My optics saw things on a scale of 1-7 rather than 1-10+.  Too much gray and not enough white.

I have had plenty of moments of great joy and happiness.  The problem is that I moved through them with my eye on NEXT so these moments peaked at a 7.  The Good Stuff only has a chance of happening if you can forget about the Next Stuff long enough to feel it.  Long enough to let the Good Stuff rise above the trees or break through the clouds.

O’ Lord, please help me linger and look deeper this Holiday Season!

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Friday, November 2, 2018

Make Your Life Better

If I could guarantee to make your life better, would you let me?  Well, not me exactly, but would you follow some advice and give it a shot for 30 days?  

During a recent commute to work, I was listening to a sermon given by Rev. Paul Rasmussen, Senior Pastor at Highland Park United Methodist Church.  I highly recommend you watch or listen to the message.  

There was one phrase that made me immediately hit the pause button.  It was one of those “I have got to hear that again.”  “Did I hear that right?” moments.  I’ve backed it up and listened to it at least a dozen times since then.  Someone had finally explained something I have never been able to find the words for.

The statement was this:

“It [reading the Bible] will make your life better; it will make you better at your life.”

I am not sure if this is his original thought or the concept of someone who influenced him, but it does not matter.  Whoever said this for the first time is not at all worried about who gets the credit.  Not seeking credit is a sign of true humility, but true humility deserves space to unpack in another chapter on another day.

Let me be clear about one thing.  I do not read scripture day and night.  I do not read scripture daily when life gets in the way or I’m not being intentional about doing so.

What I do know and my proof that this profound statement is true comes from my confession.  When I am not in God’s Word my life gets messy.  Most will never notice it, but I do not like who I am when my day doesn’t start with bible study.  Without it my life resembles the words of the Apostle Paul from Romans 7:15. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do what I hate.”  [NLT]

I think the meat of the statement lies in the “make you better at life” part.  What that means to me is that we would be much more prepared to deal with life’s adversities having consistently spent time in God’s Word.  We can panic or we can turn to God for help.  No, God’s not going to pay the rent.  God is going to provide understanding, hope, friends, and peace.  And with those, the solution for hardship is more easily found

The truth is that the better we are at dealing with the rough patches of our lives, the better our life will be.  I contend the only way to get there is to get intimate with God and His Word.  

30 days isn’t going to do it or create the depth that we all wish we had, but you will feel different.  Each year my life gets better.  I attribute this to God making me better at doing life and that makes life more fun.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Bad Compliments

You may not know this, but we are all pretty clueless.  The only way to avoid this is to be nonverbal.  Never speak and you’ll be fine.

Pay attention as others speak to strangers and you’ll quickly understand what I’m suggesting.  The conversations spiral downward with the passage of time as they fill space to “be polite”.  At some point a disjointed phrase will be uttered.  If we would only quit while we’re ahead or better yet, never get started at all.

I was at the return counter at Lowe’s a few weeks ago when the cashier called a manager for help with a customer.  No issues or friction between the two ladies just a simple override or something.  Within minutes an older gal in an electric wheelchair motored over.  She unhooked a banana colored plastic chain and wheeled through.  Then came a quick 180 degree spin and a hook of the chain back at home.  Some managerial master keystrokes were entered which allowed the return to move along.

Once things were back in shape, the manager reversed her previous course.  Spinning, almost dancing, with the chain and latch.  It was a thing of pure beauty.

The customer, observing the amazing pirouette, said “I’m impressed.  I don’t think even I could do that.”

“I’ve been doing this awhile” came a sarcastic reply from the manager.

Right then it hit me.  I did all I can to choke back a laugh.  Wait.  Was that a compliment?  Of course you couldn’t do that.  Really?  Was she saying she couldn’t do that right now or after a lifetime in a wheelchair?  Without the circumstances added to the statement it sounded like she didn’t think she could do that right now.  I wanted to say, “Come on, give it a whirl.  How do you know if you don’t try?”

To be fair, she didn’t mean any harm by it and remains clueless to this day of what she said.  She meant it as a compliment.  Nice try.  Sort of like “You look nice today” or “Have you lost some weight?”  Meant to be kind, but could be mistaken as “You look a heck of a lot better than you normally do”  and “You’re fat, but I want to encourage you to keep trying.”

Maybe just a simple Thank You would have been a little better received?

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

National What Day?

Scanning through the paper over the weekend, I saw an article drawing attention to a very special day.  National Handwriting Day on January 23rd.  Seriously, such a thing exists. The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association established the holiday in 1977.  It is true; stationers and corporate America thought a promotion of pens, pencils and paper would line their pockets with cash.

But who am I to judge?  I celebrated by penning an entry into the posterchild of the manual craft of writing.  A Moleskin narrow lined black journal.  It was about as boring as the one the day before and all the entries last week.  No matter.  Something about writing comforts me.  It might be the slower pace that I find medicinal.  It allows my thoughts to ruminate in my head as I manipulate the pen to make the proper strokes.

Late in the day my excitement waned.  Overshadowing this most important of Days, another “National” day was getting all the attention.  January 23rd is also National Pie Day.  Just a child, established in 1986, the Day of pies clearly takes advantage of modern weakness to sweets.  There might have been a day long ago that people ranked writing as equally important to human existence as pies, but no longer.  The youth want pie.

I just hope the irony wasn’t lost when you kids ordered your piece of pie and your waitress at the local diner wrote it down on a pad with a pen.  Yeah, who’s laughing now.  National Handwriting Day gets the last laugh afterall.

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace